Hiya - I was a prof at Texas A&M Uni, but am now in the UK....
Anyway - i saw a spider the other day UNDOING it's web. I'd never seen
this before and no-one I know has seen it before either. Do you know
what was happening? The spider seemed to be taking up the thread at the
same speed that it would normally put it down.
Disclaimer time--I am not an entomologist, and I have never seen a spider
undoing its web. So what I am about to write may be nothing more than an
I have heard that spider webs get "crudded up" with dust, dirt, and what-have-you
fairly quickly, and lose their stretchy, sticky qualities. So spiders need to
make new ones periodically. However, webs are made of expensive protein, which
would be a shame to waste. So the clever spiders eat the old web and recycle
the materials into a later one.
Department of Physics and Astronomy
University of Wyoming
The above web address explains that the common garden spider does recycle
portions of its web by consuming the older threads and building new ones in its place.
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Update: June 2012